Last week we sat with our COO, Ken Porcelli for a candid look into his career as well as his thoughts on the industry and where Paypro fits into it all.
1. How did you decide to get into this industry?
It was around 1997, prior to Paypro, and I was working as the Controller for a large
manufacturer in Holtsville, NY with approx. 400 employees. They were using ADP as their payroll provider and getting typical ADP service (just another number), so I started to look into other payroll services and found Paypro.
Seeing that Paypro was a local business I decided to use them as my payroll service. Over the years I got to know the management team at Paypro and in the winter of 1999 their sales manager asked me if I would consider joining the team. After meeting with our CEO, Mark Wagner, I knew this would be a great opportunity. Mark’s vision for Paypro was to become the best payroll service with a focus on customer service and helping our clients grow. Mark wanted someone with that same vision to lead the company– so I knew it was the perfect choice. At the time we had 10 employees and today we have over 70.
2. What are you most passionate about here at Paypro?
My approach is always “how can we make a difference?” I was never the type of person who wanted to be with an organization that was purely set in their ways and didn’t want to change and improve. In my career I always stayed away from the larger bureaucratic organizations because, in my opinion, they tend not to encourage creativity. The day-to-day entrepreneurial spirit of our company is what drives me.
The point I always try to get across is that we are not the same company that we were last year and we will not be the same company a year from now. You have to be willing to make changes, take some risks and help guide your team through the process or the marketplace will pass you by. You really need to listen to what your clients’ needs are and look for ways to help them achieve their goals while showing value in your service and your team. Technology is an important part of the business but it’s the people and the service that really make the difference.
3. What is your driving force every day to get up & come to work?
I want Paypro to be the best choice any client has made and to be able show the value to them everyday. I want our team to create that difference and an atmosphere with that same motivation and vision I have, because they are the driving force of this company – it’s all about the one-to-one relationships. I ask myself all the time, what do we need to do to make this the best place to work? I want a team of creative people who are willing to think and challenge themselves. I believe with that combination of culture in the organization, along with the willingness to bring that to the client level, you have a great model for success.
4. What would you say is the biggest change in the industry over the last year or so?
Great question! Payroll is the core of what’s going on in any business; most of the time it is probably the largest cost a company has. We understood that many years ago. Back in 2001, we expanded our services into time and labor management, and in 2005 we expanded into offering HRIS systems and compliance services and lastly, in 2009 we expanded into benefits administration. It’s really that goal of how you can continue to help a client manage their workforce. I think the industry saw it also, but I think we were ahead of the curve. A lot of our competitors are having difficulty trying to do it. Yes, they have the technology out there that says they can do it, but servicing and implementing that technology has been difficult for them- where for us it’s in our DNA. We were 7 years ahead of providing it in our products and services. Now with our new cloud-based technology our staff has the tools to truly service our clients.
5. Tell us a little about your newest solution WorkforceONE™ and why you decided to make the switch to a cloud-based platform?
WorkforceONE™ was the next piece of the puzzle. We were already offering the workforce management customer service and providing technology for all of the individual products with data flowing between the software platforms. Now with our cloud-based technology, we have one piece of software that can manage ALL areas of the workforce with a single employee record. Now workforce management is more efficient and our clients are seeing a great improvement on all fronts.
6. How would you describe the business culture here at Paypro?
Paypro culture is very customer focused. Whatever decisions are being made, you can be sure that the client is the first on our minds. I want our employees to feel as if they have a voice and feel like they are a part of this great, growing company. My door is always open to our employees; I love to hear their ideas – and I’m open to trying them if they make sense for the business. I want people to want to come to work and to feel as if they are valued and making a difference. All of those factors are important because if you’re feeling good about yourself, if you’re feeling confident, then that reflects to the clients and our employees are able to have that fluid conversation and to get to really know the client and their needs. If our staff is saying I want to get to work and I want to help this person, then we have a successful business model.
7. What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess & what advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
Two things I think are invaluable would be the ability to motivate people as well as to create a team atmosphere for your staff.
Leading a company and having the employees motivated enough to feel like they want to come to work, roll up their sleeves and work together with one common goal no matter what title you hold, is one of the most exciting parts of being a COO.
A team atmosphere goes a long way. Once the staff sees that a supervisor, manager, or director is working with them as a team to get the work done, it creates a working environment that everyone will feel good about. I believe that every job is important; every role in a company should be treated with respect.
8. When you’re not here at Paypro, what types of things do you enjoy doing?
I enjoy spending time with my family. We are big Disney World advocates and we go every year. The whole family goes so it’s a good time for everyone to get together; it’s fun, relaxing and a lot of quality time with the family. I also enjoy playing golf and the keyboard.